Criminal Ethnic Profiling, a Looming Danger!

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President Buhari decorating Acting Inspector General of Police Mohammed Adamu with his new rank in the State House, Abuja Tuesday
President Buhari decorating Acting Inspector General of Police Mohammed Adamu with his new rank in the State House, Abuja Tuesday

The current criminal ethnic profiling in the country is a disturbing trend with grave consequences, writes Olawale Olaleye

To think that the country has not ceased to wobble from one national malady to the other is a situation that should be of huge concern to all – the leader and the led – and their foreign allies inclusive.

Even if ideological leanings have continued to shape opinions and as much as possible determine, who belongs where, the ordinary Nigerian does not deserve the current level of despair cascading the land for choosing to vote in a certain direction.

Without having to revisit the natural fault lines of the nation’s heterogeneity, which have been played up time and time again by leadership deficit and selfish political extrapolations, that the unity of the country has never been this threatened is simply addressing the obvious.

Since the nation’s security architecture has started to deteriorate, the ethnicisation of the rather overwhelming challenge is a development that is gradually giving way to a Nigeria no one has seen before and indeed, brazenly decimating the Nigeria of the dreams of the founding fathers.

Fact is that insurgency derived from the north through the gradual expansion of the Boko Haram sect, which over time appears to have grown beyond the capacity of the security agencies.

Fact, also, is that banditry is flourishing now, because the north provided an environment conducive enough for it to thrive. It is also common knowledge that the culture of begging with its many negative consequences, including children as its poster card, has its ancestry in the north.

But, again, fact is that high profile kidnapping and advanced armed robbery, assisted by ritual killings is a preoccupation of some deviants from the South in its entirety – South-south, Southwest and Southeast. Thus, in almost equal proportions, the North and South divides have their peculiar vices that they deal with, even while they struggle with growth and development.

However, with the increased attacks by herdsmen and increasing banditry, which has upped its game with kidnapping, perhaps because their ranks have been infiltrated, the Fulani ethnic stock has become the natural suspect in all the misdemeanors that are going on across the country.

Even though a few of the arrests so far made have revealed otherwise, the average Southerner still points fingers at the northerner as responsible for these crimes. It appears very convenient now.

Whenever there is a killing, kidnapping, banditry or even armed robbery in any part of the south now, the first to come to mind is the Fulani. And sadly, the disposition of the current leadership has not helped the situation either.

As if indulging the Hausa/Fulani, President Muhammadu Buhari has really not come out strongly to make or give any presidential order and follow up same, with commensurate action. At the very highest, what so far appeared the lot of these criminal elements amongst the people has been a slap on the wrist, so to speak. As a result, they have been more emboldened in the killing sport.

This, of course, has further fuelled insinuations, exacerbated mutual distrust and damaged greatly, the otherwise fragile unity of the country. These elements of distrust are what daily inform the current attempts at ethnic profiling even where there are no empirical evidence to support such claims.

Thus, when the northerner cannot peacefully reside and work in the south and the southerner cannot be properly integrated into the north on account of baseless but costly suspicions, what therefore is Nigeria? Where is the unity that is the creed of her coming together?

Unfortunately, as bad as the situation currently is, the president does not even think it is serious. That was why he could come out to dismiss the state of security as isolated. Whatever is isolated in a situation that is this crushing across the country and almost simultaneously, the president has proven to be more of the problems than solution.

Curiously, the first step to solving a problem is to first admit there was one. In other words, by dismissing the devastating security as isolated, the president hasn’t admitted there is a problem and therefore, may not see the need to seek genuine help or solutions.
What is happening in Nigeria today is dangerous and potent enough to cause, not only a sharp division, but orchestrate her secession, ultimately, except there is an urgent and genuine intervention that can slow down the current tide.

The solution, it seems, lies in the collective resolve of all to either want to keep the country together by getting all hands on deck or watch it disintegrate and let everyone go their separate ways. And the first step to getting it right is to halt the current criminal ethnic profiling and be dispassionate in unraveling issues.

In plotting crime the world over, the lead character could choose to disguise and dress like the opposite sex. He or she could choose to dress like a certain ethnic group for deflection. He could even learn and speak a different tongue other than his or hers. What if the criminal is not even a Nigerian at all? There are too many ‘ifs’ to factor into account if the resolve is to honestly identify the enemies within.

This is why everyone must see a need to come together to fight a common enemy and not be quick to pointing fingers. This act of pointing fingers is a distraction, which colours the reality of what truly is the actual picture of the Nigerian situation at every point in time.
But to help the people get to this point and confront what collectively threatens their unity, the leadership must lead the way without importing any primordial sentiments otherwise the path to perfidy is already clearly marked.